The image posted to the TEDxTrastevere Facebook page during their TED event last evening captures perfectly the essence of this journey for Kethan. There I am on stage, with my friend, my honored hero, my “little brother,” my angel right there with me, looking over me and the audience for “Drops of Life.”
Over the past five years, I would do anything for Kethan, riding my bike to fundraise, engaging in cancer charities, like the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, fighting for access to treatment, but as I look at this picture, I am struck by a deepening realization that I have had since his passing on July 11. I was never his angel; he was mine. From the stage in Rome, I reflected on the impact of this angel on my life, “about the power of one, the power of another human being to completely and fundamentally transform another.” It was in talking with Patrick Rochon, another of the TEDxTrastevere speakers, that I came to realize how Kethan was capable of changing me and others so much. It was his rainbow.
Patrick is a light artist from Quebec, Canada. He is quite an artist, and he has a deep and beautiful soul. He shared both from the stage, and we shared even more light during a thoughtful and moving conversation as the evening came to a close. I have included an image of one of his works during his performance at TEDxTrastevere to provide just a glimpse of his provoking art. When we turn out the lights and turn on a different lens, it is amazing what we can see. It is our conversation that made it even easier for me to “see” the connection I shared with Kethan and to better understand the connections we each share with others in our lives.
Patrick made a bold statement in our conversation, one that carries risk but one that also carries with it great meaning. I am so pleased he trusted me with the sensitivity to fully appreciate and understand the depth of his beliefs in light. Patrick believes, and I must say I agree, that we each share a light, that the human body emanates the very photons that comprise light. We can’t see it, just like we can’t see the parts of a rainbow that don’t have color, but they are there. I have shared the picture of Kethan’s rainbow, appearing above his home, at the moment of his passing, from both the stage in Penang and in Rome.
Because of Patrick and TEDxTrastevere, I now understand that this rainbow was Kethan’s light. It was what connected us; it is what has inspired so many who knew him to take up his memory. His rainbow is indeed what inspired me to take up this journey, this TEDx world tour. Siddhartha Mukherjee made an interesting comment in his book, Emperor of All Maladies, “how do you memorialize a patient?” My trip from Malaysia to Rome to Dublin is the first trip in my memorial to Kethan. Gifts, like my fellow speakers at TEDxTrastevere, are just one more part of my angel’s influence on my life.